Most South Africans are familiar with pickled fish. It’s a typical Cape Malay dish and one of those dishes that I must eat whenever I go to SA. Having not been back to SA for well over a year now and with no plans to return in the foreseeable future I decided it was time to find the right recipe.
Cheri and I have had some interesting experiences lately with our attempts to recreate typical south African dishes. The recipes are usually easy enough to find but very few produce a perfect result and so it was for the pickled fish. After a few attempts, the first too vinegary, the second too bland I’ve finally arrived at my version of perfect pickled fish. Almost any white fish can be used, and either sea or fresh water fish. I’ve used haddock, tilapia and red snapper with equal success.
For those of you who’ve never eaten pickled fish it’s a lot better than you might imagine. It’s usually eaten cold or at room temperature with a salad of your choice and a hefty chunk of artisanal bread. Although I usually skip the salad and eat it with bread and lots of butter.
Pickled Fish Recipe
4 Tablespoons oil + 1 extra spoon
2 pieces white fish fillets about 400grams (haddock, hake, tilapia)
2 Tablespoons flour +1 extra spoon
1 onion thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (medium strength)
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar +1/4 cup extra
1 cup water
1. Dust fish in flour
2. Fry fish in old till lightly golden on both sides then remove with slotted spoon to a plate
3. Add the extra oil to the frying pan and fry the onion over a slow heat until softened (about 8-10 minutes)
4. Add all the spices and extra flour and fry for a further 2 minutes
5. Add the vinegar, sugar and water and turn the heat up and simmer briskly for about 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to reduce and thickens slightly
6. Remove from heat and add the extra vinegar. Remove the bay leaves and allspice.
7. Layer the fish and sauce in a dish and allow to cool. Keep in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before needed. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Is best eaten a day or 2 later so that the sauce has time to soak into the fish.
It’s also available from the SA stores dotted around the planet – looks like this: